Portrait of Desiderius Erasmus

Erasmus argues that Philosophizing is all very well but there is also a need for there to be a Philosopher of the Kitchen (1518)

Found in: The Colloquies vol. 1

Erasmus discusses the merits of feasting with two friends, Austin and Christian. After some witty repartee Austin concludes that Christian is a true “Philosopher of the Kitchen”:

Food & Drink

Austin: And you, my Christian, that I may return the Compliment, seem to have been Scholar to Epicurus, or brought up in the Catian School. For what’s more delicate or nice than your Palate?

Christian: Nor indeed would I myself, who am but an ordinary Man, change my Philosophy for Diogenes’s; and I believe your Catius would refuse to do it too. The Philosophers of our Time are wiser, who are content to dispute like Stoicks, but in living out–do even Epicurus himself. And yet for all that, I look upon Philosophy to be one of the most excellent Things in Nature, if used moderately. I don’t approve of philosophising too much, for it is a very jejune, barren, and melancholy Thing. When I fall into any Calamity or Sickness, then I betake myself to Philosophy, as to a Physician; but when I am well again, I bid it farewell.

Austin: I like your Method. You do philosophize very well. Your humble Servant, Mr. Philosopher; not of the Stoick School, but the Kitchen.

Christian: If I understood Oratory so well as I do Cookery, I’d challenge Cicero himself.

Austin: Indeed if I must be without one, I had rather want Oratory than Cookery.

Christian: I am entirely of your Mind, you judge gravely, wisely, and truly. For what is the Prattle of Orators good for, but to tickle idle Ears with a vain Pleasure? But Cookery feeds and repairs the Palate, the Belly, and the whole Man, let him be as big as he will. Cicero says, Concedat laurea linguæ; but both of them must give place to Cookery. I never very well liked those Stoicks, who referring all things to their (I can’t tell what) honestum, thought we ought to have no regard to our Persons and our Palates. Aristippus was wiser than Diogenes beyond Expression in my Opinion.

Austin: I despise the Stoicks with all their Fasts. But I praise and approve Epicurus more than that Cynic Diogenes, who lived upon raw Herbs and Water; and therefore I don’t wonder that Alexander, that fortunate King, had rather be Alexander than Diogenes.